Article re-posted from Aug 7, 2014
Another future-vision post, focusing on my take on ‘future warfare’. While most science-fiction military visions focus on ‘aggressive looking robots and weapons’, I actually think things will move in the opposite direction as I think they’re forgetting the power of mass-media, especially intense social media channels.
As we know the world changes rapidly, and security, whether local or world-wide is becoming an increasingly political or social-media driven ordeal. It’s now more important than ever to focus on ‘how you win’ as the availability of globalized 3G networks means unfiltered material is instantly deployed and spread around the world. This information can be liberating, yet also very destructive when manipulated. Security forces have yet to adapt but will start transforming into 2 groups: a force for military conquest, and a pacification force. The conquest force is aggressive and is meant to overthrow the enemy, while the pacification force is meant to pacify an area, providing security according to acceptable human rights standards.
My take on it from a practical point of view, is that technologies will start to shift towards minimizing the conscious presence of surveillance and security-measures among the target people. This is because the mindset of people will increasingly become hostile to the idea of being ‘limited’. Soldiers patrolling the streets are a constant negative reminder and source of frustration for everyday life.
In addition, guerrilla-warfare will become an ever-more effective means to wage war, and so minimizing both civilian, as well as military casualties will become crucial to avoid grueling social media exposure and rising opposition. As the age of information intensifies, the patience to study the causes for a conflict-situation decrease and so wars, violent neighborhoods, and other areas of conflict will be reduced to ‘quotes and pictures on social media’. To counter this, pacification forces will start to adapt to this, at first with ‘social media campaigns’, yet this is an expensive and ultimately futile fight. Eventually they will start to focus on minimizing the ability for such negative publicity to get created, which is where I think minimizing the ‘military aspect’ comes into play.
I’ve divided possible future ‘pacification forces’ into several categories, all based on existing technologies which are currently being developed right now. I’m using the ‘police’ framework, as I think large-scale military conflicts are a thing of the past, and so security-technology will shift focus towards relatively localized security incidents.
-> Neighborhood Watch
Patrols will start to focus on providing information and updates to the local population. To give them a central place to ask questions and interface with the security system. These robots are automated and they have no defensive capabilities whatsoever. People can storm them and destroy these informational robots, as they are simply moving information machines. Newcomers into an area will get greeted and informed of the rules and regulations of this area, and people who are breaking the rules will get notified and warned. The touch-screen on the front allows the locals to navigate various pieces of information regarding the security-situation, and in addition offer the ability to request a direct conversation with a police representative. This direct conversation will channel through the neighborhood watch robot as it is equipped with audio-speakers, microphones and camera’s. The police representative will show up on the screen to interface with the subject.
-> Eyes & Ears
Gathering intelligence will become of crucial importance to ensure crime or guerrilla-warfare is detected as early as possible. Rather than loud overhead drones, small insects and animals will be converted to carry camera’s and other espionage equipment so the people don’t realize they are being watched. Currently there are technologies in the works which allow researchers to control insects from a distance, and the US military is already concepting the idea of espionage using this setup.
There will always be times when a more aggressive presence is needed to pacify an area, and for that I think the human element will change. Instead of ‘soldiers’ or ‘police-officers’ whose priority is to ‘save themselves’ in case of harm (which is used against them in guerrilla-warfare), remote-controlled drones and robots will be used. The reason I think they will remain remote-controlled by actual human controllers is because I think a human-sense of responsibility will be desired from a legal standpoint: who likes the idea of AI deciding on these matters? What is there is a fault in the software? The robots will be armed with non-legal stun or chemical weapon to prevent casualties. These remote controlled robots will be mass-produced as their priority is to prevent the loss of life, meaning many of these will be destroyed when attempting to subdue culprits in guerrilla-warfare situations. Packs of these interceptor-robots will be flown in by armored, remote controlled helicopters traveling at fast speeds.
The US military is rapidly advancing in mechanized and robotic warfare, you can read more about it here.
A central command is necessary to provide oversight and direction for a certain area. It is crucial they are nearby and focused on that sector alone to minimize the effects of cyber-warfare (example: hacking) the remote controlled elements. The mothership will be a high-tech airship flying in the safety of the stratosphere. In order to prevent high-range anti-air missiles from posing a threat, these airships will not only have missile-disruption and defense mechanisms, they will also have a net of small AI-controlled airships around it, focused on knocking out enemy missiles and projectiles which are on a trajectory towards them or the mothership. Fragmentation-missiles will then at best knock out one of the smaller robotic airships as they destruct these missiles at a safe distance from the mothership. Airships are able to stay in the air for a long time, which makes it an affordable means of excising long-term control.
Personally I feel very dubious about these advancements, as in the one hand I like the idea of an invisible security-presence that surgically removes culprits without harm, on the other hand it gives the government such an enormous amount of power over a population that I can’t help but dread the possible 1984-style communist world that might form because of this. It effectively renders dissent obsolete if you combine it with information control and cyber-warfare which is a scary thought.
Anyways, that’s it for now; feel free to share your thoughts and ideas on various technologies and their effects on society.